Psalm 119:160

Psalm 119: An Exposition
Charles Bridges

"The entirety of your word is truth,
and every one of your righteous judgments endures forever."

The lovingkindness and the truth of God were two heavenly notes upon which David, "the sweet Psalmist of Israel," loved to dwell--his lovingkindness in giving his gracious promises, and his truth in fulfilling them. Indeed, the displays of his truth, whether to his Church collectively or to his people individually, have always been in every way worthy of himself. Often his word had seemed to be on the eve of proving false. But clearly this had been with the design of a brighter and more striking display of its faithfulness. Consider Israel in the land of Egypt. The very night before the close of the four hundred and thirty years of their sojourn, Israel was, to all human appearances, as far from deliverance as at any former period. "But the vision was for an appointed time." Nothing could hasten it, nothing could delay it. "And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years--on that very same day--it came to pass that all the armies of Yahweh went out from the land of Egypt." At a subsequent period, the family of David appeared upon the point of extinction, and it seemed as if the promise of God would fall to the ground. But to show forth the utter trustworthiness of the word of God, a providential and almost miraculous interference was manifested. Joash was stolen away, put under a nurse, and hid in the house of the Lord for six years from Athaliah, who had destroyed all the royal seed of the house of Judah. In God's appointed time, however, he was brought forth to the people as the fulfillment of the express promise of God--"Behold, the king's son shall reign, as Yahweh has said of the sons of David." "Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of Yahweh."

Many of the Lord's own people have been tempted in seasons of despondency to "charge God foolishly." But who of them has not afterwards, in some unexpected deliverance, set his seal to the fact that the entirety of God's word is truth. "For Yahweh will judge his people and have compassion on his servants, when he sees that their power is gone, and there is no one remaining, bond or free." These recollections should put to shame those suggestions of unbelief. They should strengthen our confidence not only in the prospect of the many temptations which shall come our way, but in the present endurance of those we now have.

The full acknowledgment of the truth of God's word is the ground of all our peace and comfort. The believing reception of this testimony gives us free access to God. We stand before him self-condemned, and yet we believe that there is no condemnation. "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God." Until death, in death, and through eternity, we are God's forever. In this simplicity of resting upon the word of God, we go to him not only sensible of our own helplessness but in assured confidence of his help, "strengthened in faith, giving glory to God."

Many, however, are so used to indulging the pride of their own reasoning that they scarcely know how to read the book of God without finding trivial objections. Even if they do believe when they first read it, they are not prepared to give a reason for their faith. Having ventured into battle with the enemy, they find themselves shaken and troubled, for they are equipped with unproven armor. Or perhaps their faith does not embrace the entire word of God, and therefore being only partial it is not genuine. For if we do not give full credence to all of God's word, we do not give true credence to any. In other words, we are not receiving it on the authority of God but only so far as our reasoning can explain it or our will may approve it. Oh, how we need to pray for a teachable simplicity of faith--not asking, "What do I think," but "What do I read." In this spirit we shall hold our anchor on solid ground. And should we again be tossed about with the tempest, we shall look to him who calms the storm. Confidence built in simple reliance on the word of God will endure the storms of earth and hell.

Yet it is possible to loosely believe all, while practically believing none. The generalities of truth have no influence unless there is an individual application. The quick look of acquiescence will miss all the solid blessings of a reverential and experimental faith. But to find that all God's word is true (because it provides the answer to our convictions, needs, and feelings), to know that the promises are true (because they have been fulfilled in us)--this is tasting, feeling, and handling. This is indeed blessedness, making the word unspeakably precious to us, a treasure to be desired. To have the witness in ourselves that "we have not followed cunningly devised fables," but that we have believed the word that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," this is indeed life from the dead.

Oh, how we should endeavor to receive the word with much assurance! The Israelites were not satisfied with merely questioning the reality of the manna--"What is this?" They were not satisfied with the simple knowledge that it had descended from heaven. Rather, each one gathered it up and fed upon it as his daily bread! In the same way, it will have little benefit for us to prove beyond contradiction and to acknowledge with the fullest assurance the truth of God's word unless we embrace it and live upon it as our heavenly portion. It is faith alone that can give this spiritual comprehension--"He who believes has the witness in himself." But if the word be the truth of God, it must be eternal truth in its character and its results. "Forever, O Yahweh, your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations." Here is the rock of my confidence. How could I rest my hope on any salvation that did not proceed from the primary, unchangeable, eternal mind? What assurance could I have elsewhere that the grand plan might not be defeated by some unexpected combination? But every act of reliance upon God's faithfulness establishes more firmly his title to my confidence, and strengthens my soul into a habit of intelligent, vigorous faith.

Lord, give us that precious faith which acknowledges the truth of your word and its endurance forever, and which is the spring of continual life and consolation to our souls.

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